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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Johnsons of the animal kingdom

You know how some people have an artsy friend, or an ugly friend, or a “friend” who they sleep with in exchange for calculus help? I am the girl who my friends discuss comparative penile morphology with. It’s a pretty specific niche to fill in people’s lives. But it’s better than being the go-to person to talk about something gross—like feelings.

Anyway, lots of my homies have been looking forward to this for a while. Ladies: time to gossip about who has the biggest/scariest/weirdest members in the animal kingdom.

I won’t waste your time with the blue whale. Yup. It’s big. Reeeallll big. The same goes for elephants. I saw one once on a “safari” in South Africa while really hung over after having played “slap the bag” with boxed wine. It was about one Dan Neely long.

Here’s a little more interesting one, size-wise: ducks. A certain Argentinian species has one measuring 17 inches. Which is pretty crazy, considering the duck is 16 inches long. It works because Duck Jr. corkscrews up into a compact shape. Researchers from the University of Alaska stumbled across this gem of an animal while looking for another bird. It was “running around in its natural form, with its penis out.” They also described it as “extremely clumsy.” I feel like I have seen this bird at Harris.

But the corkscrewing thing is new to me. Duck dicks also have a brush-like tip. The Alaskans think that these adaptations are to clean out sperm left by other dudes in the girl ducks’ lady parts, which are also corkscrewed. Here is the tricky part: hers spirals the opposite direction, and has a lot of dead ends.

Weird-looking stuff on animals often relates back to sexual competition: the guys need to be hotter than other guys so that girls will do it with them. But since it takes a lot more work to raise a kid than knock someone up, females have an incentive to be choosy and mate with only the sexiest drakes.

Lady ducks have this crazy vagina-maze because the man-ducks tried to cheat. Mallards in particular are known rapists. So Darwin’s plan to deal with this was to evolve a labyrinth that is so hard to navigate that in order for sperm to get far enough in the maze to fertilize the egg Ms. Duck has to be really cooperative. If she isn’t into it, he doesn’t fertilize the eggs, meaning rape is no longer a good strategy for getting his genes propagated.

This is clever of these ducks, but is something that girl cats have not yet figured out. Tom cats have barbs on their penises, so that once they are in the female she can’t do anything about it. The barbs not only let him stay in as long as he wants, when Puss in Boots pulls out, the barbs are thought to stimulate Mitten’s ovulation to ensure conception. Puuuurfect.

But having barbs and spikes and brushes aren’t actually that uncommon. Tons of our fellow primates have super scary looking yogurt cannons. These medieval-looking members all evolved like the duck penis—to clear out other sperm and make way for their own.

Humans are pretty freakin’ boring by contrast. My male readers will be happy to note, however, that as a species they have the biggest penis-to-body-size ratio among the apes. This is because (sigh) male humans were evolved to mate with a bunch of different ladies and therefore compete with other he-men. This monogamy thing we try to make happen is actually pretty outlandish.

While the human penis isn’t a very good sweeper-outer, it does have some tricks of its own. Since sperm can live in the female reproductive track for five days (!) men have good reason to want to replace the swimmers of those who have been there before them, because raising another dude’s baby is the worst strategy ever, evolutionarily.

So when a guy hasn’t seen his lady in a while, even if he doesn’t suspect she has been cheating, he ejaculates more semen than usual, to displace the potential other guy’s. Because nothing says “missed you!” like increased seminal volume.

Oh, and I have to dispel an urban myth: dolphins do not have prehensile (meaning they can grab things) penises. I know, I am disappointed too.

But you’ll have to excuse me—I have a browser history to delete.

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